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Praying Drunk, a Poem by Andrew Hudgins

Updated on August 11, 2017

One Of My Favorite Poems

       In college I had to take a poetry class in order to obtain my minor in English. There were only a few to choose from, but I decided to go with contemporary poetry class. At the time I was not the biggest fan of poetry. I did write some, but I always felt they were more like song lyrics. And a music lyric to me is the greatest poetry of all. As I took the class I started to enjoy the works of many poets. One of our writing assignments was to pick a favorite poem out of our text books and write an essay describing why you choose this poem and what it meant to you. It took much time to decide which poem I was going to write on, and then I discovered Andrew Hudgins poem, Praying Drunk. It was a funny, but yet meaningful poem that had so much depth that I found so familiar in my life that I had to choose this poem. After becoming more familiar with finding meanings in poetry, I really could relate to this poem. I know that sounds strange after you read it, but for some reason I just felt like it was a poem with so much more that what the surface allows us to see. So I decided I would like to share this poem with my fellow hubbers.

Praying Drunk

by Andrew Hudgins

Andrew Hudgins

Our Father who art in heaven, I am drunk.    Again. Red wine. For which I offer thanks.    I ought to start with praise, but praise    comes hard to me. I stutter. Did I tell you    about the woman whom I taught, in bed,    this prayer? It starts with praise; the simple form    keeps things in order. I hear from her sometimes.    Do you? And after love, when I was hungry,    I said, Make me something to eat. She yelled,    Poof! You’re a casserole!—and laughed so hard    she fell out of the bed. Take care of her.


Next, confession—the dreary part. At night    deer drift from the dark woods and eat my garden.    They’re like enormous rats on stilts except,    of course, they’re beautiful. But why? What makes them beautiful? I haven’t shot one yet.    I might. When I was twelve, I’d ride my bike    out to the dump and shoot the rats. It’s hard    to kill your rats, our Father. You have to use    a hollow point and hit them solidly.    A leg is not enough. The rat won’t pause.    Yeep! Yeep! it screams, and scrabbles, three-legged, back    into the trash, and I would feel a little bad    to kill something that wants to live    more savagely than I do, even if    it’s just a rat. My garden’s vanishing.    Perhaps I’ll merely plant more beans, though that    might mean more beautiful and hungry deer.    Who knows?                 I’m sorry for the times I’ve driven    home past a black, enormous, twilight ridge. Crested with mist, it looked like a giant wave    about to break and sweep across the valley,    and in my loneliness and fear I’ve thought,    O let it come and wash the whole world clean. Forgive me. This is my favorite sin: despair— whose love I celebrate with wine and prayer.


Our Father, thank you for all the birds and trees,    that nature stuff. I’m grateful for good health,    food, air, some laughs, and all the other things    I’m grateful that I’ve never had to do    without. I have confused myself. I’m glad    there’s not a rattrap large enough for deer.    While at the zoo last week, I sat and wept    when I saw one elephant insert his trunk    into another’s ass, pull out a lump,    and whip it back and forth impatiently    to free the goodies hidden in the lump.    I could have let it mean most anything,    but I was stunned again at just how little    we ask for in our lives. Don’t look! Don’t look! Two young nuns tried to herd their giggling    schoolkids away. Line up, they called. Let’s go    and watch the monkeys in the monkey house. I laughed, and got a dirty look. Dear Lord,    we lurch from metaphor to metaphor,    which is—let it be so—a form of praying.


I’m usually asleep by now—the time    for supplication. Requests. As if I’d stayed    up late and called the radio and asked    they play a sentimental song. Embarrassed. I want a lot of money and a woman.    And, also, I want vanishing cream. You know—    a character like Popeye rubs it on    and disappears. Although you see right through him,    he’s there. He chuckles, stumbles into things,    and smoke that’s clearly visible escapes    from his invisible pipe. It makes me think,    sometimes, of you. What makes me think of me    is the poor jerk who wanders out on air    and then looks down. Below his feet, he sees    eternity, and suddenly his shoes    no longer work on nothingness, and down    he goes. As I fall past, remember me.

This poem is still one of my favorites. I has humor but it is always very deep. I think this will always be a special poem because a lot of it I can relate to. I enjoy coming back to this poem from time to time and discover new meaning within the lines.

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